An allegation often raised against Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, may peace be upon him, was that he had suspended Jihad to please the British Government and prevent an uprising against them.
This certainly was not the case, but to answer this allegation, we need to first understand what the real concept of Jihad is? We discuss Jihad in depth in our free Online Course at www.free-islamic-course.org. In fact a whole paper is spent on this topic.
What is the true meaning of the concept of Jihad
The root of the Arabic word Jihad is Jahd which connotes endurance of rigorous conditions. Thus Jihad means to strive to the utmost for the achievement of a purpose and to leave nothing undone in pursuance of it.
Jihad is of three types
1) The Jihad against oneself - which in Islamic idiom is called the greatest Jihad (Jihad Akbar) - To purify oneself. (Ch.29:70)
2) The Jihad that is waged against Satan and Satanic teachings and designs, and is called the great Jihad (Jihad Kabeer) - Propagate the teachings of the Holy Qur'an. (Ch.25:53)
3) The Jihad that is waged against the enemy of freedom of conscience; this is called the lesser Jihad (Jihad Asghar) - Holy War (Ch.22:40)
The Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has described the striving against self as Jihad Akbar. It is mentioned in the sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, when returning from an expedition (Tabuk), he said:
“We are returning from the Jihad Asghar (fighting)
to Jihad Akbar (struggle against self)”. (Radd ul Mukhtar)
He also said:
“The Mujahid (one who does Jihad) who is exalted above other
Mujahids is the one who strives against his own self”.
The greatest Jihad is the Jihad Akbar (purifying oneself). This is because one’s internal struggle to lead a pure good life is very difficult. God always guides us to good, but our natural tendencies are inclined to evil. The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 12, verse 54, describes this as Nafse Ammarah, ‘the self that inclines to evil’. Our natural state, as long as we are not guided by reason and understanding, is to follow our natural bent of eating, drinking, sleeping, waking, anger and provocation, like the animals. Once a person is guided by reason and understanding and brings their natural state under control and regulates it in an appropriate manner, then they start to develop their moral state to the second stage of development called Nafse Lawwama, ‘the reproving self’ (75:3) and then to the final moral state of Nafse Mutmainnah, ‘the soul at rest’ (89:28). Thus to purify one’s self is a constant internal struggle which one must strive to practise in order to achieve paradise.
If you wish to know more on this subject please read ‘Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam’ by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
The second type of Jihad is Jihad Kabeer (propagating the religion). This is because to go out and spread the message of God and to try to improve the society that one lives in, means that first you have to overcome your inhibition and be ready to face abuse, humiliation and even persecution. To propagate the religion means that you have to lead by example and live by what the religion teaches. You cannot say to someone that this is what my religion teaches me, but I personally do not follow it, and then expect that person to take you seriously. It is for this reason that to spread the message of God through word and personal example, is the second hardest type of struggle that one must strive to do.
The third type of Jihad is Jihad Asghar (Holy War). This is placed third, because no war can be Holy! But, Allah recognises that in certain circumstances, there is a need to defend yourself for the sake of your faith - This is the Jihad Asghar. A true Jihad should only be raised when these two conditions are there a) It is in defence b) The aggressors are trying to prevent you from practising your faith. Because ultimately our purpose in life is to worship God, if someone prevents you from worshiping God, then you should reason with them. If that fails, then Islam teaches us that we should move away and worship in a different place. But if they follow us and still prevent us from worshipping God, then we are permitted to fight them as a means for our freedom of belief and worship.
According to the teachings of Islam, if a person fights in a true Jihad and dies, he will die as a martyr and will go to paradise. When fighting a true Jihad therefore, a Muslim is not scared of dying, instead he welcomes it as a means to attain paradise. An army that does not fear death, becomes a very strong army! It is for this reason that the Muslim leaders desire to call any war a Jihad, knowing the effect it has on their army. In this last Century, there have been many Jihads called by the Muslim leaders, sometime against Muslims themselves i.e. Iran v Iraq war, where both sides called a Jihad!
The question that is often raised is - when is a war, a Jihad, according to the teachings of Islam? The most complete definition of Jihad is found in the Holy Qur’an:
Permission to take up arms is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged - and Allah, indeed, has power to help them -
Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly, only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah.’
The majority of Jihad’s that have been called are political wars and any political war, whether it is between Muslims and non-Muslims or just between Muslims, does not become a Jihad. In fact, some people start considering a war of rights a Jihad since each party believes that “we are in the right”; then each party declares that the war is in the name of God and for the sake of truth, therefore, it is a Jihad. This may be a secondary definition of Jihad, but whether it is called Jihad or not in the terminology of Islam, its definition does not apply because this definition is against the basic logic that whoever of the two parties is based on truth, their wars will become Jihad in the Qur'anic terminology. All kinds of wars have and are being fought. Whenever two parties are fighting it is obvious that if one party is not based 100% on truth it will attest to be based on truth. It is very rare that the two parties are equally to be blamed or the two are equally right. Generally, one party is the oppressed and the other is the oppressor. The war of every oppressed people is not called a Jihad. The war of that oppressed group is called Jihad who are being stopped from declaring their faith in God, who are being punished for their religion.
The Holy Qur’an states “They have committed no crime except that they say, ‘Our Lord is Allah.’ ” So, if a war is being imposed on someone only for this reason and the enemy has started the war and it is the enemy who has raised the sword and not the Muslims, then the crime of the Muslims should be none except that they declare God as their Lord and deny other Lords besides God then such a war is called Jihad.
Allah does not expect us to force people to accept Islam, or to kill innocent people in the name of religion. The word Jihad has been commonly used to mean Holy War, but as we have just explained, Jihad means to strive or struggle and the greatest Jihad is to strive to put Allah first before everyone and everything. That is the hardest struggle. Then the next Jihad is to go out and propagate your faith, explain to people what is right or wrong, that is the next hardest striving. The lesser Jihad is the holy war, but as our purpose in life is to worship Allah, then if someone prevents you from worshipping Allah we are told to move. Travel the world, it is a vast place. Go somewhere else to worship Allah. But if people decide that wherever you go, they will prevent you worshiping Allah (as in the time of the Holy Prophet) then Allah tells us that we can fight - for the right to practise our faith only. So there are two conditions for a Holy War 1) Must be defensive 2) Must be to be allowed to worship your Maker. It is not about land, power, oil or anything else. You can fight, but don't call it a Holy War.
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s (a.s.) view
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, may peace be upon him, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, has not forbidden or suspended Jihad. All these forms of Jihad are there today, but he stressed that the need of today is in doing the greatest Jihad of self-purification and then the propagation of your faith.
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi announced:
You should understand it well that the need of the time is not the wielding of the sword; it is the pen that has to be used. The doubts that our opponents have expressed about Islam and the assaults that different sciences have made, have drawn my attention to the fact that equipped with the weapon of the pen, I should enter the battlefield and show them the miraculous bravery of Islam and its powers.
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi further announced:
The Jihad of this age is to strive in upholding the word of Islam, to refute the objections of the opponents, to propagate the excellences of the Islamic faith, and to proclaim the truth of the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, throughout the world. This is Jihad till God Almighty brings about other conditions in the world.
Extract from a letter addressed to Mir Nasir Nawab Sahib
In this letter the words “Till God Almighty brings about other conditions in the world”, clearly indicate that he did not reject the concept of Jihad by the sword, but believed that the obligations of such Jihad had been postponed in this age on account of the conditions that call for it. He did not and could not abrogate Jihad by the sword as this is what the Holy Qur’an teaches. But as the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, had prophesised that the Promised Messiah would not fight with the sword as his age would be a time of religious freedom.
He will break the Cross, kill the swine, abolish war” (for the sake of religion, under Divine guidance (Bukhari) and “he will kill Anti-Christ, break the Cross, abolish the taking of Jizia (tax collected from defeated people), as there would be no longer be any war.
Did he stop Jihad to please the British?
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, may peace be upon him, was born in India. At that time India was under the British rule, but before then, India was subjected to the rule of the Sikhs. That was a terrible time and the Sikhs abolished all religious freedom, especially for the Muslims, who could only carry out their worship with difficulty.
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, may peace be upon him, stated:
The Muslims have not yet forgotten the time when, at the hands of Sikhs, they were condemned to a blazing oven and not only was their world in ruins but their religion was even in worse case. It was difficult for them to carry their religious obligations, so much so that on one occasion a Muslim was killed for calling the Adhan.
Announcement 10th July 1900
After British rule replaced Sikh rule it was announced on behalf of Queen Victoria:
We proclaim that it is our royal will and pleasure that not one of our subjects shall be persecuted or granted any favour on account of his religious beliefs or practices, nor shall any person be deprived of his security. In the eye of the law all people shall be equally entitled to impartial protection.
Proclamation by the Queen in council to the princes, chiefs and people of India 1858
Unlike the Sikh rule, the British Government granted complete religious freedom of profession and practice. Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, may peace be upon him, announced:
Government has granted to every people full freedom for the propagation of their respective faiths and in this way people have been provided with an opportunity to study and reflect upon the principles of every religion…that is the reason why we, in our writings and our speeches, make mention of the beneficence of the British Government.
Roedad Jalsa Dua
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, may peace be upon him, explained the doctrine of Jihad as follows:
…At the time of the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, the basis of Islamic Jihad was that God’s wrath had been roused against the tyrants. But living under the rule of a benign government, as is the Government of our Queen and Empress, it is not Jihad to entertain rebellious designs against it, but it is a barbaric idea which is born of ignorance. To entertain ill-will against a government under whom life is lived in freedom and there is complete security and religious obligations can be discharged to the full is a criminal step and not Jihad.
Tohfah Qaisariyya, pp. 9-10
As we have mentioned above, Jihad Asghar - Holy War can only happen if there are two conditions –
a) It is in defence
b) The aggressors are trying to prevent you from practising your faith.
This was not the case in India at that time; therefore the only Jihad that was needed was self-purification and propagating the message of Islam. The above quote was from Tohfah Qaisariyya a booklet written by the Promised Messiah which is translated as ‘A Gift for the Queen’ written in 1897 for the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria inviting her to Islam as a passage is written “O Almighty God! Thou are all Powerful, we beseech Thee that Thou mayst so turn the heart of our gracious Queen that she may give up all creature worship and see the light of Islam. Let her believe in the One God and His Messenger, Muhammad, till the end of her days.” This is the Jihad of this age to win their hearts by reason and prayers, not by fighting.
Is fighting and terrorism the answer of Islam?
Long human experience shows that the sword cannot affect a change of heart, and, according to Islam, it is a sin to try to convert people through fear or favour. Therefore, in this day and age, the Jihad should be through explaining and practising the beautiful teachings of Islam. If this is done then the first real steps towards real peace would be taken.
How can Muslims fight against modern weaponry? And so they have taken to fighting through terrorism. Islam is a religion of peace, in fact the word 'Islam' means 'peace' and like all the religions of the world, it is a path to Allah and Allah certainly does not promote terrorism. Unfortunately, people sometimes misuse things which are good for their own gains. Some Muslims and non-Muslims have tried to link terrorism with Islam, whereas it has nothing to do with Islam. After all, what does ‘Islamic Terrorists’ mean? It means 'Peaceful Terrorists', is that possible to have peaceful terrorists? So any action of terror can have nothing to do with a religion of peace.
Sadly, this is what some religious leaders teach the Muslims who are in ignorance and believe that what they are saying must be true. They tell them that if they become suicide bombers, then Allah will reward them with paradise. Whereas suicide is totally forbidden in Islam as is killing innocent people. There is no place for terrorism in Islam. Suicide bombings are a flagrant contradiction of the Qur'anic injunctions:
...And kill not your own selves. Surely, Allah is Merciful to you
Islam strictly forbids the killing of innocent people:
...no hostility is allowed except against the aggressors.
These verses alone are sufficient to prevent any Muslim from crashing aeroplanes into any buildings or from sending suicide bombers to blow up innocent men, women and children. In every part of the world there are extremists who try and justify their cause in the name of religion. Many people of the Muslim world today choose to follow a clergy whose idea is rigid and often extreme. The irreligious ideas of these extremists have often led Muslims to fall into the trap of terrorism all over the modern world of Islam. One way to give them more incentive is to claim that if they do this then they will go straight to heaven and there will be 72 virgins waiting for them. But, the exact opposite will happen. Concerning the virgins, the Holy Qur'an actually said 'pure mates', with no reference to the number 72. Heaven is a spiritual world not a physical world, therefore it doesn't matter if the partner is a virgin or not, there will be no physical acts in paradise. It means that the company you keep will be pure and good company.
Now again the Holy Qur'an relates:
...whosoever killed a person - unless it be for killing a person or for creating disorder in the land - it shall be as if he had killed all mankind
There should be no compulsion in religion
O ye who believe! Be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not a people's enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness.
Is any fighting permissible in these days?
As we have mentioned above, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, may peace be upon him, has not forbidden Jihad Asghar (Holy War) but the conditions have to be there for a war to be called Jihad Asghar as this means you are fighting for Allah. No doubt there will be times when you need to fight to protect your homeland or for other reasons, but unless you are being attacked and prevented from worshipping Allah, then call it for what it is and do not bring Allah into it. It will only be a Holy War when the enemy is preventing you from worshipping Allah as the Holy Qur’an related:
Permission to take up arms is given to those against whom war Is made, because they have been wronged and Allah, indeed, has Power to help them -
Those who have been driven out from their Homes unjustly, only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah.
Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II explained the attitude of the Ahmadiyya Community towards Jihad. He said:
As the Salat is obligatory so, when the need arises, is fighting for the faith obligatory… It should be remembered that of the matters which have prescribed as the principal constituents of faith, one is Jihad… He who turns away from Jihad when it becomes obligatory is condemned to hell.
Report of the Majlis Musawarat 1950Ahmadi Muslims fight for the country of residence if and when needed. During the World Wars, the Pakistan – India wars etc. After the establishment of Pakistan, when the Dogra forces and the Indian Army were suppressing the Muslims of Kashmir, the Ahmadiyya Community raised a volunteer army called the Furqan Force to fight in Kashmir along with the Pakistan Army. If the conditions of Jihad by the sword arise, then the Ahmadiyya Community will participate in this obligation. If there is a need to fight for the Country you are living in, then the Ahmadi Muslims are ready to fight to protect their Country. But the main Jihad which all the Ahmadi Muslims are participating in is the Jihad Akbar – self purification and Jihad Kabeer – propagating the beautiful message of Islam.